Artist of the Year: Wangechi Mutu

by Shana Nys Dambrot

Recently named Artist of the Year by the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Wangechi Mutu creates regal, talismanic depictions of the female body that take cultural anthropology to a new level.
Mutu came to the US from her native Kenya to study anthropology in addition to fine art, and her shimmering mixed-media collages, paintings, and drawings show both influences. Their richly sensual, organic power and jaunty, jazzy grace posit the literal layering of commercial, private, and collective symbolic imagery as a stand-in for the creation of identity.

Check out images from Mutu’s recent exhibitions at LA’s Susanne Vielmetter Projects, watch a video interview with the artist, and if you’re in Berlin, visit her My Dirty Little Heaven exhibition through June .

Drowning Nymph III, 2007, Ink, paint, mixed media, plant material, and plastic pearls on X-ray paper, 14 x 17 inch © Wangechi Mutu and Victoria Miro Gallery, Ole Faarup Collection, Copenhagen

The Bride who married a Camel’s head, 2009, Mixed media, ink, and collage on Mylar, 60 x 40 x 40 inch, Photo: Mathias Schormann, © Wangechi Mutu and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Intertwined, 2003, Collage and watercolor on paper, 16 x 12 inch © Wangechi Mutu and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Wangechi Mutu, Photo: Chris Saunders, © Wangechi Mutu

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